HOUSTON (KTRK) --A man is claiming self-defense in the killing of his ex-wife and his 14-year-old daughter. The victims were shot to death Thursday at their south side home on Alkay and Almeda.
Michael Ratliff was questioned and released while the investigation continues. Eyewitness News found a criminal history on Ratliff. In 2006, he was sentenced to 2 years of probation for aggravated assault. In 2002, he was convicted for assaulting a family member.
Latoya Ratliff was an employee at a car dealership for more than 20 years and her daughter, Ariel, a freshman at Manvel High School.
"She wasn't even living," said her aunt Shatara Hubbard. "She don't know what life is she was just trying to live it, enjoy it."
Their family just doesn't understand why Michael Ratliff shot and killed his ex-wife and daughter. He claims self-defense telling police they attacked him with two knives.
"It's just so unreal," said Tonya Belt.
The family said the couple divorced in 2012 but they were back together trying to work it out.
"They seemed to be a perfect couple," said neighbor and friend Daniel Jackson.
No one imagined something like this would ever happen.
"I heard at least 3 gunshots," said Beckys Flores in Spanish, the neighbor across the street.
Flores said she saw Latoya was still alive when she was placed in an ambulance and taken to Ben Taub hospital. She also said police would show up every now and then when the couple apparently fought over how to discipline their teenage daughter.
"She did not deserve this," said Belt.
Police questioned Michael and later released him. They are still investigating and want anyone with information to call HPD's Homicide Division.
"He's gonna regret it, that's gonna happen," said Belt. "Once you pick that gun up you went from being her husband to someone that was mad and acted."
The couple has a 21-year-old, Xavier Ratliff, who is in the Navy and overseas. They were trying to reach him via social media Thursday to notify him.
Eyewitness News checked the calls for service at the home and found that in April police responded to an "assault in progress" call. The report states that the wife and husband were arguing over "discipline of a child". The district attorney's office was contacted but charges were not accepted.